Viral disease confirmed in Tasmanian Abalone but wild stocks appear OK

Posted by Editorial on 11th September 2008

Abalone Viral Ganglioneuritis (AVG) has been confirmed in tissue taken from abalone in a live holding tank at a southern Tasmanian processing facility.Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rod Andrewartha said the positive result was returned yesterday afternoon by the Australian Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong, which had done advanced testing for evidence of exposure to the virus.

Dr Andrewartha said that, as yet, there is no evidence of the disease in wild stocks. “There has been high awareness of AVG among divers for some time and none has reported signs of the disease,” Dr Andrewartha said. “We’ve also had divers down at a specific area as a result of the current incident to observe and also take samples from the wild.”

“No sign of the disease was apparent on the seabed but the test results from the wild samples are yet to come in,” he added. “Divers will be sent to a second site of interest as soon as sea conditions allow.”

Dr Andrewartha said that it is quite possible that the infected abalone contracted the disease in the live holding facility and did not have the disease in the wild. “A considerable trace-back exercise is underway as we attempt to locate the source of the disease.”

Restrictions on the movement of abalone from the processing facility concerned are in place. “Further management options will depend on what is discovered as the trace-back exercise progresses and from the wild surveillance.”